An updated technology is being used to help ensure that innocent people are either not convicted or are exonerated, according to a former law enforcement officer.
Clifford Payne, a retired investigator with the Atlanta, Georgia, police department, touts the Computer Voice Stress Analyzer (CVSA) as instrumental in making sure only guilty individuals are sent to prison.
Payne also serves as Regional Director of the National Association of Computer Voice Press Analysts, which represents nearly 2,800 law enforcement agencies that use CVSA.
“As law enforcement professionals, our main goal is to make sure only the guilty are prosecuted,” Payne said in a statement. With the refinement of DNA testing, we are now better able to accurately determine where the criminal justice system failed in the past as innocent men and women, some whose lives are ruined forever, are being released from prison on a regular basis. This is in no small part due to organizations such as the Innocence Project, improved DNA testing, and the help of technologies such as the CVSA.”
The CVSA is a cutting edge lie detector that analyzes how voices change in relation to stress and has replaced the polygraph at law enforcement agencies throughout the country. It also validates statements much faster than the previously used polygraph, reducing average exam times to less than an hour.
Human voices have small frequency modulations. When an individual is not being truthful, their central nervous system causes inaudible changes in their voice frequency, the company that makes the devices says. CVSA processes those frequencies and “graphically displays the fluctuation of the voice patterns in real time with the subject’s answers.” The technology is not limited to “yes” or “no” answers and can accurately analyze recorded voices.
“Our main problem was that 30 percent of polygraph examinations are ‘inconclusive,’ meaning that there were no discernible results. With the CVSA, there are always correct results 100 percent of the time,” Payne says. “When you also take in to account that it takes ten weeks to train a polygraph examiner and only five days to train a CVSA examiner, plus the fact that polygraph exams take between 2-3 hours and the CVSA exam can be performed in 1 hour with perfect results, it is clear which system to use.”
NITV Federal Services, which manufactures the devices, has documented a long track record of success with its technology. Additionally, it has provided numerous studies attesting to the accuracy of a voice analysis stress testing device, which the company says costs roughly $74,000 less than a polygraph to purchase including training for two operators.
After conducting a CVSA exam, a woman in Miami, Florida, was cleared of charges that she stabbed her ex-boyfriend and father of her children. An adult male witness accused her of committing the crime, though the woman told officers she was being framed. After running the CVSA, the woman passed and the witness confessed that he stabbed the man, who was his uncle, and conspired with another family member who was falsely arrested so the father could get custody of his children.
In Illinois, a woman was murdered in 1980, and though several suspects were investigated, no evidence was strong enough to result in a conviction. The Coles County Sheriff’s Department, upon acquiring the CVSA 37 years later, convinced one of the suspects — then 70 years old — to take the voice stress test to eliminate him from further scrutiny. The suspect agreed. After the detective reviewed the exam, which indicated deception, the suspect confessed to the murder.
The Pleasant Grove Police Department in Utah re-opened a rape case involving minors that had occurred nearly a decade prior after the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force provided funding for the department to purchase the CVSA. The case had been closed after a lack of physical evidence and the primary suspect passed three separate polygraph exams. After detectives received the CVSA, they contacted the suspect, who agreed to take the voice analysis exam, which he failed. When the suspect was shown the results, he confessed to committing the crimes.
“As an investigative and decision support tool, the CVSA has proven itself to be invaluable to law enforcement,” said Det. Chad Jeansonne, of the Alexandria, Louisiana, P.D., who serves as the Legislative Affairs Director for the NACVSA.